The Community is the Company

João Miguel Neves jneves at
Fri May 25 20:15:43 UTC 2001

On 25 May 2001 13:10:49 -0400, TonStanco at wrote:
> I suggest that you read three background pieces.
Done that. If I understood what you wrote and the pieces your main
points are that:

    - Free software development is more efficient than proprietary
    - Software should be free because it can enforce controls on people.
    - To become the only kind of software development, free software
    development needs to find a way to get money to developers.

> >   > It's interesting as an idea, but solely as that. This won't work. The
> >   > reason why free software has worked so well so far is the connection
> >   > between users and developers: the user is the develloper. 
> This is one reason that free software works, but a minor one. The main reason 
> free software works is because it is a much more efficient developmental 
> paradigm. Perhaps as much as 10x more efficient. This is explained more in 
> the DCLUG speech, but mostly in the article, Why Microsoft is a Dinosaur. 
I disagree. I believe that then power of free software appears when a
user has a problem and solves it and can share it with others. His
solution evolves with the feedback from others and becomes several
solutions to several people problems. I believe that this is more than a
minor reason, it's the reason why free software works.

> The proof of the huge efficiency gains from free software is GNU/Linux.

I prefer effectiveness to efficiency. Means getting results while
effectiveness may mean to optimize a single step of the solution.

> >   > The structure they propose is not different from proprietary software
> >   > companies, it's just like them,
> I don't understand this statement. FreeDevelopers is a worldwide, inclusive 
> membership organization that will be fully democratic. How is this like 
> Microsoft or any other proprietary company? This structure is more like 
> NASD/NASDAQ, VISA/banks, Medical Associations/doctors, or bar 
> associations/lawyers. It is constructed as a self regulatory organization. It 
> is more like these SRO entities, but will go far further than they do, 
> because FreeDevelopers will have its own marketing entity. 
My this is just a question of belief, but I don't believe that a single
entity (FSMC) can represent either the diversity or the power of free
software. I understand marketing has giving to people what they want or
need. I don't believe that anyone who is not in close contact with the
developers can effectively market a software product, especially if you
take into account cultural differences. Having a single entity doing
this for all free software is just a task too big to be done.

What I do believe is in a network of "Independent consultants", as the
document calls them, that can be either persons or companies. The nodes
of this network will have 2 things working for them: the knowledge of a
certain market and an understanding of free software that allows them to
contact directly the free software community.

Companies like would eventually appear as
the network develops itself, not before, and probably not as a single

> >   > but like the ones who were beaten up by
> >   > MS. I believe this proposal was done with the best of intentions, but it
> >   > has no way to survive, at least not in the big picture.
> What are your reasons for this statement? This is a conclusory opinion. And I 
> have an opposite one. The only way to think about which is right is to have
> reasons as a basis for either opinion.
I hope I have exposed them above. If not, let me try to clarify:
    - No single entity is able to represent all free software solutions.
    - No single entity is able to effectivly represent any software
    solution to all or even most of the world's cultures.
    - Marketers have a natural power over developers (even if most
    developers don't want to recognize this): they know the customer and
    understand what he/she wants.

> >   > BTW I believe it's impossible to have a single entity doing the role
> >   > proposed for Can someone explain me why, on a
> >   > networked world, someone proposes a single entity point of access ? 
> The CommCo is not a single point of access. It is a single marketing company 
> distribution point, because otherwise GPL software can't be funded and the 
> industry stays inefficiently proprietary just to pay the developers. 
If I understand it right model of paying developers
depends on the effectiveness of FSMC. For the reasons stated above I
don't think this will work. 

> So we need a single marketing company to pay the developers. But a single 
> distribution point is not a problem for developers, because they will own the 
> marketing company as a community. Also, the development is still free and 
> open like it is now and will be uncontrolled by the marketing entity. 
Sorry, this makes me remember how Jeff Bezos on unions ("our employees
don't need a union because they all own the company"). A single
distribution point IS a problem for a lot of developers, that have
learned to contact directly with their users and have seen the feedback
loop work for them.

Unless I'm completly missing the point, model depends
on controlling GPL projects distribution, creating an artificial
scarcity. In my opinion this will not work, as proprietary software
model won't work. Something more like the "Street Performer Protocol",
user donations or some kind of "work recognition" awards.

Supporting a worldwide freeflow of money (like a worldwide cheap,
localized paypal-like service) that allowed these recognition systems to
work would be, in my view, a more effective help to free software
developers than any other structure.

                                                Joao Miguel Neves

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